Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Board members sought for pilot Kennet & Avon Canal Waterway Partnership Board

The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and British Waterways are asking local people and organisations to nominate interested individuals to become volunteer board members on a new local Waterway Partnership Board that will help govern the 87-mile canal that runs from Reading to Bath.

The establishment of a Waterway Partnership Board is a pilot scheme created to inform British Waterways proposals to become a civil society organisation, a ‘national trust for the waterways’.

British Waterways recognise that current governance arrangements need to be reviewed ahead of a move to the third sector to allow for greater participation by local people..

Working with the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust the pilot Waterway Partnership Board seeks to demonstrate how working in a local partnership can help manage and maintain the canal corridor effectively which is enjoyed by the many groups, communities and businesses that neighbour and utilise the waterway.

David Rees, Chairman, The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust said:

“This is a real opportunity for interested members of society along the length of the canal to participate in the shaping of the waterway, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, and to move it forward as a continuing vibrant linear country park.”

The Kennet & Avon Canal was chosen as the pilot location, as it has a strong established Trust, which, over the last 50 years has been largely responsible for the restoration of the canal, and now stands as a testament of continuing community interest having over 3,800 members.

BW and the K&A Canal Trust (KACT) worked together previously to develop a partnership that secured the £25m Heritage Lottery Grant in 1997 to complete the full restoration of the waterway.

The new board will focus on the promotion and maintenance of a sustainable future for the Kennet & Avon Canal. The Board will influence the formulation of the Waterway Plan which will cover Operations, Development and Fundraising, and will oversee the delivery of that plan.

British Waterways’ Chief Executive, Robin Evans said:

“We hope that a wide variety of interested parties, reflecting the diversity of groups that use the canal, will come forward to be part of the Local Waterway Partnership Board.

“Over 13 million people visit the waterways each year, and there are over 34,000 boats licensed to use the waterways we manage. The Kennet & Avon Canal is a popular and much-loved waterway with an active and established Trust. We hope that this pilot will demonstrate that giving local communities a role in the management their waterway together with a real sense of ownership will create improved and sustainable waterways for the future. .”

The membership of the Board, which will number up to 12, will reflect the full range of interest in the waterway. BW and the KACT are seeking expressions of interest from individuals with commitment and relevant experience, including people from the public and private sectors, local communities, interest groups and individuals who may have technical knowledge, such as engineers, ecologists and environmentalists. People with skills in community engagement, fundraising and marketing and communications may also like to apply, along with keen boaters, anglers, cyclists and walkers. David Rees, current Chairman of the KACT, has been invited to chair the pilot Waterways Partnership Board.

The WPB will initially meet this September and will run as a pilot for up to 18 months, meeting every 6 to 8 weeks at locations along the Kennet and Avon canal, to be decided. The Board members will be volunteers, although out of pocket expenses will be met.

Written expressions of interest should be sent to administrator@katrust.org.uk by Friday 27th August 2010.

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